Anti-gay groups have a new cause celebrate, namely Baronelle Stutzman. Earlier this year, Stutzman refused to supply the floral arrangements for the wedding of a same-sex wedding. Robert Ingersoll and his fiancé Curt Freed were customers of Stutzman’s business for more than a decade, but she refused citing her “relationship with Jesus.” Now this is getting her hit with a lawsuit and a $2,000 fine because her ‘relationship with Jesus’ contravenes the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed the consumer protection lawsuit against Arlene’s Flowers & Gifts in Richland. On 28 March, Ferguson sent a letter to Stutzman as well asking her to reconsider her refusal to supply flowers to Ingersoll. After Stutzman refused, the suit was filed.
Ferguson stated that “As Attorney General, it is my job to enforce the laws of the state of Washington. Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers based on sexual orientation. If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their weddings, then it must provide same sex couples the same product or service.”
Seattle Pi noted that:
The lawsuit by Ferguson is bound to revive a warning raised by opponents of marriage equality in last fall’s Washington Voter’s Pamphlet statement against Referendum 74. Foes stated:
“People who disagree with this new definition (of marriage) could find themselves facing sanctions, as has occurred elsewhere. Church groups have lost their tax exemptions. Small businesses were sued. Wedding professionals have been fined.”
The supporters of same-sex marriage, in their rebuttal, stated: “Lawsuits haven’t increased in states with same-sex marriage. Liberty and pursuit of happiness are core American values.”
Stutzman claims that Ingersoll “said he decided to get married and before he got through I grabbed his hand and said, ‘I am sorry. I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.’ We hugged each other and he left, and I assumed it was the end of the story.”
The suit asks for a permanent injunction requiring the business to comply with the Consumer Protection Act and asking a $2000 fine for every violation. Stutzman has brought in “a number of national non-profit organizations” and has threatened to immediately challenge any action Ferguson takes in federal court.
Of course, Stutzman might just want to go ahead and shut down her business if she intends to do that because those groups have a really bad track record in the courts.